The flame of the European Games arrived in Sabirabad on Wednesday evening, ten days into its epic journey across Azerbaijan.
As at previous locations, the flame was carried in a torch relay covering 3.32 km along Heydar Aliyev Avenue. Azad Asgarov, former USSR youth Greco-Roman wrestling champion was the first of twelve torchbearers. Seymur Adishov, Ramiz Mammadov, Miraflan Agayev, Ilkin Hasani, Ilham Azimov, Alijabbar Nuriyev, Nadir Guliyev, Rufet Mehdiyev, Ibrahim Ibrahimov, Seyfulla Mehdiyev also carried the flame. The final torchbearer was Amid Babayev, who brought the torch to the stage in Heydar Aliyev Park for the official lighting ceremony.
Amid cheers and celebration, the flame was then transferred to a special commemorative lamp that will remain on display in the park until the cauldron is extinguished to coincide with the Closing Ceremony of the European Games on 28 June.
As one of the fifteen locations of the Journey of the Flame hosting a Festival of Fire – a free evening event gathering thousands of people to enjoy the festivities and soak up the atmosphere – local residents were treated to a spectacular fire show specially created for the Journey of the Flame, along with performances and entertainment from local artists.
Mr Agayev reflected on his day, saying: “Hosting the European Games helps to raise the profile of Azerbaijan and showcase not only Baku, our capital city, but all of the regions as well. Other European cities have great sporting traditions and have already hosted many Olympic Games but Azerbaijan, a new state barely two decades old, was awarded the honor of hosting the first ever European Games.
“I am proud to be part of the torch relay, and it created a beautiful memory for me. As a coach, it will be a great opportunity for me to share my excitement of this great event, to join the passion of the Games and build support for our local athletes.”
The flame will continue to Imishli for a smaller welcome ceremony, and will then head on to Horadiz town, Fizuli for another Festival of Fire the same day.